Post by Zachary Ostin

Have you ever sat through a great meeting with lots of discussion and interesting people who listened to you? Hopefully, yes. Thankfully, good conversation and verbal communication can be easily found in the business world. But, after that meeting, did you get a follow-up email asking you to restate what was already discussed in the meeting? Out of frustration, did you eventually schedule another meeting that consisted of essentially the same (great) discussion and same (great) listeners?

We all hate repeating ourselves, but it’s common in business where each day is filled with critical and less-critical conversations. Ask any person what they value in a vendor or consultant, and they’d probably have “Good listener” somewhere on the list. But the truth is, listening is cheap. It’s easy to shut your mouth and let someone else talk. What your customers actually mean when they say, “I want to work with good listeners” is “I want to feel heard, remembered, and valued.”  Simply allowing someone else to talk is not being a good listener if you don’t remember and value anything they say.

I’ve been guilty of being a faux good listener before. When I started working with Rocket Jones back in January, I considered myself a pretty darn good communicator. But after spending some quality time with these folks, I have learned some simple techniques that drastically improved my listening and communicating.

So you want to know the 1 simple trick for good listening?

Taking notes.

I know it seems like a simple practice, but I think this is a lost art. The leaders at Rocket have an incredible ability to hear what our customers are saying and record it in an organized format. This eliminates the annoying and ineffective practice of relying on memory. The human brain is amazing, but solid memory happens only with lots of repetition. Thus, circuitous conversations occur when people depend on memory. Storing information from a conversation on a page instead of your brain will keep you from asking your customers to repeat themselves over and over again.

I was excited when I realized how important it was to our customers to have their ideas recorded. They could come in and sit on our couch and share their ideas, and our diligent listening and note-taking set them at ease. They knew they probably wouldn’t have to repeat themselves. This realization caused me to challenge myself to become a better communicator. I put practical things in my life that allow me to take more notes and communicate my ideas and others’ ideas more clearly. I utilize Evernote daily with a format I learned at Rocket Jones. I now carry a ‘Field Notes’ pad in my wallet to capture thoughts and notes on the go.

After implementing better note-taking practices, I’ve found that people have become more interesting to me. I have really enjoyed capturing important details of conversations I have. It has been so great to remember details from conversations I had with people. And the best part is building better relationships. I have noticed super favorable responses from people when I mention important ideas they shared in previous conversations. They feel valued and remembered when they don’t have to repeat details of earlier conversations.

I love the ‘Secret Sauce’ here at Rocket Jones. I have tasted the sweetness of exceptional communication and plan to never stop.

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